Michael Ruff - keys/vocal
James Genus - bass
Per Lindvall - drums
James Harrah - guitar
Olivia Ruff - vocals
He is the kind of artist people love to "discover". Long time fans know him as an amazing musician and songwriter, able to touch audiences in a very personal way. Michael always includes the finest musicians, Joyfully playing well crafted lyrics and melodic songs with a jazz-funk openness, you never know what might happen.
"A Michael Ruff concert is like having Stevie Wonder, Springsteen, a preacher, a comedian and James Taylor all wrapped up in a jazz pianist pouring his heart out in your living room, you'll laugh, you'll cry...really, you'll laugh, you'll cry. Inspiring!." (a very well known artist)
A gifted producer; Michael has had million selling songs recorded by India Arie, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt, David Sanborn, BeBe Winans, Huey Lewis, the Doobie Bros. and many many others. The Grammy nominated artist has released more than 12 solo CDs worldwide. He makes his home in Hawai'i and is a husband and father of five.
Michael Ruff's talent has during the past decade serving as the concert music director for Chaka Kahn, David Sanborn and Rickie Lee Jones; as band member with Lionel Ritchie, Brenda Russell, Karla Bonoff, Jose Feliciano, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Randy Vanwarmer, The Wynans, The Beckmeir Brothers and members of Rufus; and performer on-stage with Al Jarreau, Kal David, Gerald Albright and Michael Paulo.
Ruff also is known as a hot songwriter for artists such as Bonnie Raitt ("Cry On My Shoulder" on" her multi-Platinum Nick of Time album), Huey Lewis ("That's Not Me"), Roberta Flack ("More Than You'll Ever Know' and "Thought I Knew It All"), Vonda Shepard ("A New Marilyn"), Karla Bonoff ("All Walk Alone"), David Sanborn, Carl Anderson, Kal David and Chaka Kahn.
Michael was born in Salt Lake City, but spent his school years growing up in Boston and Manchester, Connecticut. He began playing piano at three and was considered a prodigy by his teachers.
In high school, Michael played in various groups that performed either blues, Top 40 or R&B. At 17, he was touring the east coast behind James Cotton, John Lee Hooker and other blues acts.
A year later he joined Don Moore and backed this singer-songwriter in New York City clubs and Catskill Mountains resorts. "He encouraged me to start writing songs " Michael spent a couple of years living in Woodstock where he played with artists like Orleans, Paul Butterfield and David Sanborn.
Ruff moved to New York City, met Randy Vanwarmer, toured with him and played on his album with musicians such as Tony Levin and Shane Fontaine.
Ruff moved to Los Angeles where he recorded two albums with The Beckmeir Brothers and began doing session work with other artists.
"My first big break came when I toured with Jose Feliciano. We went all over the world and I felt like I had made it because I didn't have to set up the equipment on stage ".
When Michael was in his early twenties, he went on tour with Karla Bonoff and then became the musical director for Rickie Lee Jones on her two-year-long "Pirates Tour." "She's a brilliant perfectionist, and a spontaneous performer. She was a big influence on me."
Ruff recorded some demos with Brenda Russell and then began playing with an R&B band in Los Angeles that included members of Rufus (Andre Fischer, Bobby Watson, Tony Maiden). Artists like Gerald Albright and Michael Paulo sat in with the group regularly. Brenda brought producer Tommy LiPuma (George Benson, Michael Franks, The Crusaders, etc.) to see Michael perform which resulted in a contract with Warner Bros. Records and Ruff's first album, Once In A Lifetime, produced by LiPuma.
Michael became Chaka Kahn's musical director and put together a top-notch band for her "I Feel For You Tour." Ruff served as musical director for David Sanborn on an international tour that also featured Al Jarreau. Michael co-wrote and sang on the tune "Lesley Ann" on Sanborn's "Close-Up" album. Ruff then toured with Laura Branigan, performed on several albums by the gospel group The Wynans, and did a lengthy tour with Lionel Ritchie.